Cedefop's CareersNet, the network of independent experts in lifelong career guidance and career development, held its annual meeting on 8 and 9 October, in cooperation with the German Federal Employment Agency.

At the virtual meeting, over 40 network members and other invited experts and stakeholders discussed how to rethink professionalism of career guidance practitioners in the digital context. Participants reflected on aspects of professionalism in guidance and guidance policy, considering the digital context not only during the coronavirus pandemic, but even further back in time.

In his welcome message, Cedefop’s Head of Department for Learning and Employability Antonio Ranieri expressed his appreciation οf the work CareersNet members are doing. He called the new inventory of lifelong guidance systems and practices, a core activity of the network, a great achievement. Mr Ranieri also pointed out that the meeting was held at a time when attention to digital technology is bigger than ever due to the ongoing pandemic challenges.

German Federal Employment Agency's Michael van der Cammen presented the agency's work on lifelong career guidance for young people and adults, the objective of which is to help people cope with the fundamental changes in the labour market.

In the sessions that followed, there were 12 presentations, most of which are in the process of becoming chapters for an upcoming Cedefop publication in early 2021 on the same theme as the meeting. CareersNet members and two invited experts, Peter Weber and Matthias Rubner from the University of Applied Labour Studies of the German Federal Employment Agency, shared examples from various European countries regarding changes in guidance policy and approaches to practice, new opportunities and challenges for practitioners across sectors, digital innovations in guidance and the role of quality frameworks, guidance systems and frameworks for professionalism, and rethinking labour market information and information management in the modern labour market.

Participants worked in small groups on both days to explore in more detail the meeting’s theme and propose actions and inputs for policy development. Discussions focused on skills and competences career practitioners need now and how current and planned policies support professionalism of lifelong guidance related to the wider digital context.

Survey on pandemic impact

Cedefop experts Ernesto Villalba and Cynthia Harrison and ETF’s Florian Kadletz presented highlights of the joint international survey on the pandemic and its impact on career guidance systems and policy development. The survey’s preliminary results show that guidance provision has been maintained during the pandemic via remote means (telephone, emails and virtual platforms), while there are indications of a structural change from face-to-face to blended provision after the pandemic. The final report is expected to be out by the end of 2020.

The new Europass portfolio was presented by the European Commission’s Koen Nomden and Hrvoje Grganovic, with a focus on the planned developments in the delivery of information about lifelong guidance.

The final panel discussion focused on the main takeaways that should lead policy and what is yet to be discussed. Panellists agreed on the importance of professionalism in guidance, such as the need for training, research and revisiting competence profiles. They echoed the message from speakers on the need to see new technologies as something that may be reshaping guidance and should be better integrated and managed, also based in the demand for services. Further research is needed in understanding how the different channels are best combined, on artificial intelligence in guidance, on career management skills and how best to harness ICT for guidance.

In the closed session that followed the annual meeting, CareersNet members discussed network management issues and developments since the last meeting in September 2019.

You can find out more about CareersNet here. Meeting documents, presentations and selected videos on inputs will be uploaded on the dedicated event page.